Meet the Team
Sophie Marques is a researcher and a lecturer in Mathematics at Stellenbosch University. She is Franco-Portuguese married to a South African. She previously worked at University of Padova, in Italy, University of Bordeaux I, in France, Courant Institute, in the USA, UCT, in South Africa. Through her international roots and experience, she had to question constantly and evolve her teaching philosophy. Her love for teaching started at a very young age. She sees research as a form of teaching. As she built her teaching experience, she realized a disconnection between what is taught and day to day life. She hopes that Wisaarkhu can help to break those walls around mathematics making mathematics inaccessible to most. On her free time, she loves spending time with her family. Born in the countryside, she loves animals, nature, and gardening. She always loved art, poetry, music, and photography.
Ingrid Rewitzky has been involved in educational leadership within and across relatively complex environments through her roles as Professor of Mathematics, Executive Head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, and Vice-Dean (Learning and Teaching) of the Faculty of Science.
Her personal growth and satisfaction as an academic and educational leader are integrally linked to transcending generational differences and diversity with integrity, fairness, empathy, effective listening, humility, and caring. As a leader she strives to foster a collegial environment (for colleagues and students) promoting inclusivity in which each individual feels respected, trusted, motivated, and valued, all decisions are made fairly and with integrity, and excellence, loyalty and service are acknowledged and rewarded.
She enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends, gardening, crafting, playing golf, and walking with her spaniel, Chanel.
Zurab Janelidze is a mathematician working in category theory — a field of abstract mathematics that studies unified conceptual principles of different areas of pure mathematics. He is a professor at Stellenboch University and serves on the editorial boards of Applied Categorical Structures and Cahiers de Topologie et Géométrie Différentielle Catégoriques. His hobbies include drawing and classical music improvisation.
Bethany is an Abstract Maths student at Stellenbosch University, but originally from East London in the Eastern Cape. She has always enjoyed Maths, but also always had a passion for any and all creative pursuits – art, music, you name it, she’s probably dabbled in it!
Bethany joined the Wisaarkhu team at the end of 2019 with no experience in website creation (with WordPress, by coding, or otherwise), but with an itch to learn and help. Being the first and only website she’s ever created or run, it has given her many busy days and sleepless nights, but also much satisfaction and growth.
She hopes to one day go into teaching for Mathematics (either high school or university level). She feels teaching is one of the most rewarding ways to serve people with time, knowledge and creativity.
After graduating with a degree in biotechnology engineering at Polytech Marseille, Christine Marques completed her PhD in Neuroscience (INSERM U1118) at the University of Strasbourg. During her PhD, Christine deciphered the molecular mechanisms that selectively trigger cortical neurons dysfunction and degeneration during the course of ALS and improved characterization of the cortical pathology in this disease. She developed a protocol that allowed, for the first time, the transcriptomic analyses of pure populations of cortical neurons isolated from the cerebral cortex of adult ALS mice model at different stages of the disease.
Christine joined the Wainger lab as a postdoc, where she is interested in applying stem cell biology to better understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of protein spread involved in ALS. Christine received the Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship from the ALS Association in 2019.
Michelle is a second year civil engineering student aspiring towards an environmental engineering degree. Born in Zimbabwe to Kenyan parents she has always been immersed in multiple cultures and been curious of the world around her. She is passionate about film and has been around theatre for a large part of her life. Michelle is always looking for answers and has an unshakable love of knowledge in all forms.
Summayah is an aspiring Mathematician and Computer Scientist. She enjoys building ideas and digitizing them. Her biggest interest is Set Thoery and how it can be used to explain everything. She is currently an undergraduate student at Stellenbosch University majoring in Computer Sciences and Abstract Mathematics. Just a girl from a small farm town with dreams, aspirations and passion.
Nino was born in Tbilisi, Georgia. From 2007, Nino lives in South Africa. Nino always admired works of fine art. It took her some time before she decided to start creating artwork herself. For the last few years, she has been painting in oils and developing her own style. Nino illustrates for Wisaarkhu from the start of the magazine in 2019.
Cayla Basson is a designer who works with Wisaarkhu to add a visual twist to their articles.
She believes in ethical design with a spectacular focus on the small details to ensure a successful end product.
Cayla has secured a spot in the top ten best designers amongst her peers. She has also landed one of five spots in the international “IF” poster exhibition, hosted by the Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology (PJAIT) and European National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC-Warsaw), to be exhibited in Poland.
Cayla is a third-year Visual Communication Design student from Stellenbosch University. She is working towards her bachelor’s degree and expects to take her education further to ensure the best quality designs her skills have to offer.
Liani Malherbe is a Fitness Instructor and freelance creator from Franschhoek.
She believes that everyone needs an outlet, creative or active, in today’s fast moving world.
Liani has her own small business, Evolve Fitness Classes, where she helps people from Franschhoek and Paarl incorporate fitness into their daily lives.
She has always loved working and creating with her hands. She enjoys painting, drawing, printmaking, and baking.
Nandan is a student of mathematics at IISER Mohali, India, and is currently working on his master’s thesis. He appreciates poetry and art, and believes that memes as a medium of expression can help highlight numerous social issues that exist in the society in a satirical way. He uses memes as a tool to showcase various misconceptions or problems that exist within the world of mathematics, and uses them to connect with a wider audience.
Ethan Quirke is currently studying Abstract Mathematics and Computer Science. He originally was doing only Computer science, but took Maths along with it as a possibility as he had some skill in it and enjoyed it, but he didn’t really see the value in it. At the end of his second year, he took a module Linear Algebra, and this was unknowingly his first encounter with real Abstract Mathematics. It resonated with him quite a bit! After some researching he then decided to change his course to Mathematics with Computer Science. His interest in Mathematics continually grows and he is very interested in the possibility of pursuing it further. He also have a keen interest in Psychology, which is quite stimulated by him being a bit more of an intuitive-feeling type of person, and so he is very interested in how these two fields come together! As hobbies, he enjoys skating, music, non-stop talking with friends and anything to do with animals!
Lourens is a passionate mathematical hippy who currently lives on his family farm near Kimberley with their pet dogs, springbok, warthog and lamb. He currently pursues his Honours in Mathematics at Stellenbosch University and is the 2020 chairperson of SUMS (Stellenbosch University Mathematics Society). His poetry serves as a means to balance his mathematical career with linguistic art.
Hosana is soft-spoken yet candid female poet, who draws inspiration from her background in rural Madagascar where she seeks to uplift and inspire other young children to fight the scourge of poverty that bedevils society. She is also a PhD candidate University of Stellenbosch in the department of Mathematics. There she continues to engage with other young people on various pertinent themes during various activities such as choir, hiking and poetry sessions.
Tristan can be described as a private and quiet individual who often speaks only when spoken to, yet may talk for hours given the opportunity.
Though Tristan may often be silent this does not often represent disinterest but rather his nature when placed in an unfamiliar situation. He often observes the world around him and uses that as well as his own interpretation of such things to serve as a bases for his art.
Tristan believes that the world and life is a balance between good and bad emotions and hopes to capture those combined emotions within his art. He also has wide interests, ranging from aviation, sailing, drawing, CrossFit, up to Sci-fi and so on.
He often says that life is a journey and we are all but travellers, as such it would be only apt for us to help one another along each of our unique paths.
Aishwarya Viswamitra is a poet, journalist and English teacher. She is passionate about science communication, whether it be through well-researched articles or a spoken word poem. Along with pursuing sci comm via social media management and journalism, she is completing her masters degree in Biology at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali.
In her free time, Aishwarya can be found giving people existential crises on her Instagram page @_.twoinabillion or nursing a runny nose (she’s allergic to cats and has one). A passionate foodie with a distaste for cooking, she will never be found in the kitchen unless she’s seated at the dining table.
Her goal is to continue to share people’s journeys through her writings while figuring out her own, one article at a time.
Jianing Qi is an entrepreneur. He studied math and philosophy. He is passionate about science and humanity, and he believes in bridging the gap between those two fields. He loves the philosophy of language and the application of math in natural language. He is very interested in this field! He enjoys art, cooking, and cats.
Cecilia Hernandez is a Finance professional in the healthcare industry where she provides insights through data analytics to bring clarity to the financial decisions of institutions.
Outside of her full-time role, Cecilia is an entrepreneur who focuses on supporting women of color business owners with their finances, operations, and data analytics needs. Her mission is to empower these small business owners through educating them on the financial health of their company as well as provide financial insights that will help them plan and strategize for their future. Important to Cecilia in her business model is decreasing the stress and mental anguish that can come with managing one’s business finances.
Her goal is to make financial prowess a therapeutic process for her clients.
In her free time, Cecilia can be found testing the boundaries of her palette through trying new foods and cuisines. She loves learning the background of dishes to explore different cultures through food. Cecilia is also an avid reader and you can find her nose-deep in the next must-read mental wellness book, personal finance book, or poetry series.
Cecilia is a proud graduate of New York University where she majored in Mathematics. She’s also a Bronx native who’s New York roots speak to her unending grind and quest to always grow.
Sarah Selkirk is a doctoral student in combinatorics and a contract lecturer at Alpen-Adria-Universität in Klagenfurt, Austria. Originally from South Africa, she is passionate about supporting and encouraging women in mathematics, and is a co-organiser of the African Women in Mathematics Seminar.
Dr Roomaney conducts most of her research in the field of health psychology. She is interested in the psychological, behavioural and social aspects of illness, health and healthcare. While her research is mostly centred on women’s health, she is open to collaborating on a wide range of topics within the field, and not exclusively in women’s health. Dr Roomaney is currently working with several students conducting research among patients with breast cancer, gynaecological cancers, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. She has a growing interest in how patient populations use online spaces in relation to their health behaviours and health cyber psychology. Dr Roomaney is the national delegate for South Africa at the European Health Psychology Society and is leading the development of a Health Psychology Special Interest Group in the Psychological Society of South Africa.
Shaun Hudson-Bennett is a high school Mathematics teacher in Somerset West. He believes that everybody is capable of achieving at Mathematics and works to challenge the myth that some are destined to fail. Mathematics is an instrument that anyone can use with the right amount of self-belief and perseverance to teach us about what we are truly capable of. The harder we work means the greater the rewards and Shaun works to equip his students with the right skills and temperament in order to work through solving challenging problems. He loves mountain biking, doing anything at the beach, a good braai with good people, reading books (the old-fashioned ones with paper) and diverse opinions.
Mariam Salie is a registered Clinical Psychologist and lecturer in the department of Psychology at SU. Mariam’s clinical training includes providing psychological services at Welgevallen Community Psychology Clinic and Kylemore Clinic during Masters training, 2 Military Hospital during internship and she completed her community service at the Department of Correctional Services, Pollsmoor Management area. In light of these experiences, Mariam has an interest in culturally competent mental health services in South Africa. Her focus is on teaching and clinical training in Psychology. She has been involved in promoting mental health awareness in the community in collaboration with community organisations and through community publications.
Karin-Therese Howell is a mathematician who works in abstract algebra and graph theory. She is a Senior Lecturer at Stellenbosch University. She is the convenor of the African Women in Mathematics Conferences and Seminars (AWiM) and is passionate about supporting women in mathematics and encouraging more female learners to consider studying mathematical sciences. In her free time she likes to kitesurf and paint.
Ronalda Benjamin is a researcher and lecturer at Stellenbosch University and work in the general area of Functional Analysis, a branch of pure mathematics.
As a learner she very much enjoyed mathematics, but growing up surrounded by drugs, gang violence and young people whose lives lacked direction, she was always hesitant to voice this passion of hers and her dream of becoming a mathematician. Ronalda argued that a rise in positive role models in her neighbourhood would motivate young people to pursue their dreams. She then decided to “be the change she wants to see”.
Ronalda is very passionate about mentoring young people from disadvantaged communities – she would like to see more people beat the odds stacked against them.
In her free time, Ronalda can be found watching a good movie or some matches played by Brazil’s women’s volleyball team – I may just be their biggest fan.
Neeraja Sahasrabudhe is a faculty at the department of mathematics at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research. Her research focuses on Probability theory and its applications. Neeraja enjoys the teaching aspect of the job as much as the research. She likes to interact with students on various topics beyond the classroom and is interested in understanding the interplay between structures of higher education and society.
She also has a keen interest in the gender question in academia. Neeraja believes that it is crucial to evolve an understanding of the historical and socio-political context of knowledge within universities and its relation with marginalised groups, including women.
Acutely aware of the eliteness and exclusiveness of higher academia, Neeraja is interested in engaging with people, groups and spaces that challenge this hegemony.
In her free time, other than surfing the internet aimlessly, she loves reading fiction and poetry. Neeraja is also a cinephile and likes to watch films from all over the world and sometimes write about it as well. She finds peace in old songs, tiramisu and tea.
Anita Campbell has been enthusiastically teaching and learning from students of first-year mathematics for over two decades. Since 2011 she has been based in the Academic Support Programme for Engineering at the University of Cape Town. Intrigue about why some engineering students fail to rebound after failing first-semester mathematics led to her PhD investigation of growth mindsets – the belief that intelligence can always be improved. Her PhD thesis showed that interventions to develop growth mindsets should focus on mindset messages in learning environments and not just target individuals. She is excited about applying findings from the field of positive psychology to enhance student wellbeing and success. Other research interests include educational technology to support active learning, and engineering students’ sense of belongingness.
Apart from helping students, her favourite things include hiking and running with her husband and twin daughters, eating avocado and basil pesto, and reading books like The Book of Joy.
Anita is a member of the International Positive Psychology Association, the South African Society for Engineering Education, and the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa, and the Centre for Research in Engineering Education.
Maria studied mathematics and physics on the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics at Comenius University in Bratislava. She finished Mater studies at 2004. She got PhD Degree in applied mathematics, specially in algebraic graph theory at Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, at Faculty of Civil Engineering, Department of Mathematics and Descriptive Geometry. After that she continued at the department like researcher and assistant professor. In 2019 she became the Associate professor in Applied Mathematics
Maria Zdimalova currently works at the Department of Mathematics and Constructive Geometry, Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava. Maria does research in Applied Mathematics, Algebra and Graph Theory. Her current project is ‘Arch Math: A Bridge between Mathematics and Architecture, Design, Fashion, Art,’ Algebraic Graph Theory as well as Graph Algorithms in Image Processing.
Between her topics belong as well uncertainty modelling, bio-informatics applications of graph cuts algoritms and general algorithms into segmentation of data.
She becomes a part of the scientifoc commiitee in Milano at the conference “Faces of Geometry-From Agnesi in Mirzikhani”, (2020, 2021) and Czech -Slovak international competition for university students. She is a member of Editorial Board of the journal “Indonesian Journal of Combinatorics” in Indonesia, and as well a part of Reviewer Board of the Journal Symmetry.
During her carrier she organized many international as well as local conferences, she participated on many international conferences and as well she has many international teaching experiences abroad: Italy, Spain, Mexico, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Indonesia, Turkey and others.
She also guides students in the final theses like advisor.
Born and raised in Athens, Greece, ever since she was a little girl she wanted to teach mathematics. As an undergraduate at the Kapodistrian University of Athens her passion for Mathematics grew, and before she knew it she was doing her Masters in Numerical Analysis (as she wanted to see maths applied to everyday life).
She had her first experience studying abroad in 2012 when she went to Italy to do her PhD research at the University of Padova. She got excited about her research into real life applications such as image reconstruction.
Three years later she moved to the UK and since then she has lived in Lancaster and worked at Lancaster University. In her current role she leads a team that supports student learning in mathematics and statistics.
She loves travelling (you can imagine how much she suffered from the travel restrictions due to the pandemic) and she likes art. In the past she has been a member of amateur theatrical groups (in Greece and in Italy). She is always open to new challenges. Any ideas are welcome! 🙂
Lesley Scott recently completed her Psychology master’s thesis at Stellenbosch University with research intersecting the disciplines of Psychology and Mathematics. An advocate for life-long learning, she returned to her studies after several years in the workplace, completing her undergraduate and honours qualifications at UNISA.
In her experience, not only is Mathematics an art in itself, it lies at the heart of many creative pursuits. While Mathematics is too often seen as an isolated discipline, she believes that it is diversity and collaboration that allows for innovation and advancement within the field and beyond.
When not studying or researching, she is a contributing author and content creator for a number of online platforms, and has authored a series of books that help young children recognise and regulate their emotions. Additionally, she facilitates lessons for children identified at high risk for early learning failure. Lesley believes in the power of community and that connecting with others helps us make sense of the world. She relies on tea and good books to keep her sense of humour intact.
Damas Karmel Mgani is a doctoral student in mathematics at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He was born in Mbeya, Tanzania. His area of research is in algebraic geometry. He is passionate about encouraging young students in schools to like mathematics. He believes that mathematics not only build the foundation to other subjects, but also it is an important tool for logical thinking, understanding the world of technology and deciphering various statistics. In some of his free time he volunteers teaching mathematics in secondary schools.